The Communication Toolkit The Communication Toolkit Blog Mon, 18 Mar 2013 17:40:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Helping Pregnant Women Make Informed Choices Wed, 16 Jan 2013 21:42:26 +0000 Lise Rybowski When you become pregnant, you quickly learn that a tremendous amount of information and advice is available: everything from what to eat and drink to what care to get and when. Not only are there mountains of books and websites specifically targeted to pregnant women, but everyone seems to want to tell you what to do, whether you want to hear it or not.

Needless to say, it can be really overwhelming and challenging to sift through all that information read more

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Look to the Young to Take the Lead in Using Health Care Quality Information Mon, 17 Dec 2012 18:56:54 +0000 Lise Rybowski For years, many have bemoaned consumers’ lack of uptake of comparative health care quality information. Despite efforts to make the information easier to access, understand, and use, surveys have found little change over time in the overall percent of people aware of and using comparative information on doctors, hospitals, and health plans.

But there’s reason to be hopeful.  Sometimes it helps to look at data from another perspective – like use of information by different age groups.

In a 2011 read more

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Engaged Employers Need Engaged Employees Wed, 12 Dec 2012 22:14:41 +0000 Lise Rybowski In “Bullish on Business: Engaging Employers in Health Care,” the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation makes a case for employers to become actively involved in driving changes in their local health care markets. The brief outlines steps employers can take to push for improved health care quality and lower costs.

One of these steps includes collaborating with other purchasers to exert real pressure on the marketplace. This collaboration takes on particular urgency as public health care purchasers move away read more

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A Big Step Toward Making Health Plan Information More Usable Mon, 03 Dec 2012 16:28:30 +0000 Lise Rybowski In the midst of open enrollment season, millions of employees are trying to figure out how benefits and costs compare under different health plans. Deciphering pages and pages of insurance information – with each company presenting the information however it likes – poses a huge challenge, even for the most health care-savvy among us. As a result, many of us end up selecting plans for the wrong reasons, not picking the plan that would actually be best for us (e.g., read more

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“Buying Value” – Once You Buy It, How Do You Explain It? Wed, 14 Nov 2012 16:48:03 +0000 Lise Rybowski The idea of paying for health care “value”— known as value-based purchasing—has taken on new life. A growing number of employers and other health care purchasers and payers are taking steps to identify and reward health care providers that offer the best quality of care at the most reasonable prices (i.e., the best value).

 To help employers adopt value-based purchasing strategies, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has a new Web site called Buying Value where you can learn about read more

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Health Insurance Literacy: A Major Barrier to Informed Decision Making Fri, 02 Nov 2012 19:33:34 +0000 Lise Rybowski It always takes me a while to get used to a new health plan. Even when I think I understand how it works, I somehow end up being surprised by what’s covered and what’s not, and I’m never quite sure what benefits I have.  It’s comforting but somewhat worrisome to realize that I’m not alone in feeling ignorant and frustrated.  So many people struggle with information about health insurance that experts have coined a new term for this condition: Health read more

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What You Can Do To Recognize Health Literacy Month Thu, 25 Oct 2012 15:31:54 +0000 Lise Rybowski Maybe we need a colorful ribbon to remind us that October is Health Literacy Month. Low health literacy may not be a disease, but it seriously limits the ability of tens of millions of Americans to maintain their health and get the care they need when they need it.  

Here’s a quick quiz. Which of these situations requires health literacy?

  1. Managing a chronic condition
  2. Filling out health insurance forms
  3. Using health care benefits and coverage
  4. Knowing when to take a
  5. read more
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Recommended Reading: “Do You Speak CFO?” Mon, 15 Oct 2012 17:32:28 +0000 Lise Rybowski For an interesting look at how Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) are starting to view investments in health benefits and wellness programs, check out a September 2012 article from the Commonwealth Fund called “Purchasing High Performance:  Do You Speak CFO?” Drawing from a survey of CFOs conducted in 2011 by the Integrated Benefits Institute, the article reinforces the importance of expanding beyond health care costs to a variety of measures – such as sick-leave days, employee satisfaction and retention, read more]]> 0 How Health Reform May Affect You: A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words Wed, 26 Sep 2012 22:15:55 +0000 Lise Rybowski With the Supreme Court ruling out of the way, many employers have been scratching their heads over the implications of the Affordable Care Act. 

The good news is that there’s a lot of information to help address employers’ questions:

  • The Affordable Care Act – What it Means for Employers (PDF – English 916 KB, Spanish 963 KB) (brochure from the Department of Health and Human Services on
  • The Affordable Care Act – What it Means for Small
  • read more
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What’s Really Driving Increases in Health Spending? Thu, 20 Sep 2012 17:21:39 +0000 Lise Rybowski Compared to the double-digit increases of less than a decade ago, the slower annual rate of increase in health care expenditures over the last few years is good news.

The 2012 Employer Health Benefits Survey recently released by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and the Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) found that premiums for families rose by 4 percent and those for individual workers rose by 3 percent. (Read “Reflections on This Year’s Four Percent Premium Increase” for an read more

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